Delivering Tough News

Delivering tough news is tough.
Unless you manage a team of clairvoyants, NOT delivering the news won’t solve the problem or change the situation. 

So, here’s some help. 

  1. Headline the conversation.  You know what you want to talk about.  Give the other person a one line statement so they can be prepared for the discussion too.
  2. Use ‘I’ vs. “You” statements.
         - Sounds like: “I’ve noticed this behavior, this outcome, this result…”
  3. Choose non-judgmental words.  Words that make a listener automatically defensive include: always, never, attitude, lazy, apathetic, bad time management, and more.
  4. Check your body language.  You may be saying something you didn’t mean to.
         - Arms crossed – I don’t want to be here.
         - Slumping shoulders – I’m so done with this.
  5. Invite their perspective with a question and do it soon.  In role-play interactions, I’ve noticed that when people get nervous about the message, they tend to ramble and repeat the concern. Meanwhile, the recipient is getting anxious and defensive. 

Putting it all together:

"Hey Jalen, let's talk about the game. I noticed you seemed frustrated after the loss and I get it."

"I’m pleased you didn’t talk poorly about the other players, but am concerned about the impression you gave by having slumped shoulders and being barely audible when you responded to questions.  It sends a negative message about you and the team."